"Everything's looking good." Relive the excitement of a space shuttle launch with stunning views of the ascent from main engine ignition through Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) separation.
Video footage was recorded by NASA engineering and television cameras. Motion stabilization of long range shots provides excellent close-up views of the spacecraft in flight. Microphones positioned near the launch pad and aboard the orbiter captured the roar of the engines firing, the rush of air as the shuttle accelerates, and the explosive boom of SRB separation. The soundtrack also features mission audio from launch team members at the Kennedy Space Center, flight control personnel in Houston, and the astronauts in the shuttle.
This movie is available in the following versions:
Main Sequence - A series of views showing space shuttle Discovery during the STS-124 ascent. The video includes broadcast television footage, high speed film, and long range tracking shots. Files are provided at 25, 30, 50, and 60 frames per second. Available with Closed Captions [CC].
Main Sequence with English subtitles - An alternative version of the previous video presented with open captions displayed on-screen. Provided at 25 and 30 frames per second.
Split Screen - A side-by-side view of the ascent from different camera angles. The main sequence is shown on the left, and supplemental video is on the right. The supplemental video consists of footage from multiple shuttle missions. It includes several shots from cameras mounted on the shuttle. Provided at 30 frames per second. Available with Closed Captions [CC].
Technical Edition - An alternative version of the split screen edition. Technical notes are presented on the top portion of the screen above the video, and English subtitles are displayed below. This version can be considered the Instructor's Guide or Teacher's Edition. Provided at 30 frames per second.
Opening Title Sequence - A slow-motion view of STS-124 blasting off the launch pad and accelerating past the tower. Provided at 30 frames per second. Available with Closed Captions [CC] or open captions (English subtitles).
Additional information about the audio and video content is presented below in the Shotlist section of this web page. Links to source content are provided in the Credits section.
The first five videos in the playlist are suitable for streaming at bitrates of 1800-1900 kbps. The remaining items might not stream smoothly depending on the file and available bandwidth. Please visit Vimeo to stream or download lower bitrate videos.
Launch: All Systems Go was developed in conjunction with Launch: Maximum Thrust -- a similar movie that shows up to five synchronized camera angles. Viewers might also enjoy the high energy trailer video. Some of the clips used in these videos are shown at greater length in a bonus reel of shuttle launch tracking shots.
Distribution or presentation in whole or in part must be accompanied by all credits and notices, and must comply with guidelines for use of NASA imagery. MAY NOT BE USED FOR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES OR FUND RAISING, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO GENERATION OF ADVERTISING REVENUE. Persons depicted or speaking in this work appear for illustrative purposes only. No endorsement of any commercial product, process, or service is stated or implied. Presented without warranty, guarantee, or any representation regarding accuracy, performance, reliability, security, currentness, or otherwise. The producer, Profitic, content providers, and their members, officers, employees, agents, and/or suppliers shall not be liable to any person or entity for any damages, costs, or proceeding arising out of use of this work or otherwise.
UPDATE March 2014: An issue in the soundtrack was resolved by remixing the audio. Previously the crew conversation recorded over the shuttle's intercom system did not play properly on some mobile devices.
Produced and edited by Ivan Myles. Footage provided by NASA courtesy of NASASpaceFlight.com, nasa.gov, Internet Archive, and SpaceFlightNowPlus.com.
- The STS-124 launch video is also posted in the NASA HD Archive at 1080i, 720p, and 480p.
- A higher bitrate copy of the "Best of the Best" video is available at NASASpaceFlight.com with L2 membership. The video is referred to as "Ascent - Commemorating Shuttle."
The following discussion describes noteworthy items in the movie. Video marked as (Right) only appears in the Split Screen and Technical Edition versions. Notes included in the video are based on information found at nasa.gov, Wikipedia, and other content sources listed in the credits section.
0:00 - The opening title sequence provides a slow motion view of the liftoff recorded by a camera on the Fixed Service Structure and played back at 1/4 speed. At T-0 the SRBs fire and the umbilical structure swings away from the external fuel tank. Water floods the Mobile Launcher Platform to absorb energy. There is a clear view of the exhaust plume as the shuttle rises above the pad.
Right: The Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate swings away from the external fuel tank as the booster rockets detonate. During liftoff the SRBs surge at approximately seven cycles per second; the natural frequency of the boosters' thrust.
The opening audio track includes an edited version of the pre-launch status check conducted by the NASA Test Director (NTD). Each team member gives the "go" for launch, ending with the NTD reporting back to the Launch Director. The status check is presented here in rapid succession. In actuality there is a brief discussion between the NTD and each team member.
0:20 - Sound suppression system is activated at T-16 seconds. Water floods the launch pad to absorb energy and protect the shuttle and its payload.
0:24 - "All vents open" - The active vent system depressurizes parts of the orbiter during ascent.
0:26 - View of the Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs). At T-10 seconds the Free Hydrogen Burn Off System is activated to prevent accumulation of unburnt fuel.
0:29 - The three main engines fire at 0.12 second intervals starting at T-6.6 seconds.
0:31 - Right: The thrust of the main engines causes the shuttle to tilt forward.
0:35 - T-0: SRBs ignite when the vehicle rocks back to a vertical position.
0:41 - Protective covers fly off the orbiter maneuvering engines. Engine nozzles pivot to initiate the roll maneuver. Right: View through the orbiter's overhead window as the shuttle clears the tower and begins its roll.
0:57 - Right: Forward view from the cockpit looking over the nose of the orbiter and the external tank.
1:01 - Right: This view from a helicopter captures the shuttle's speed and rapid acceleration as it ascends.
1:05 - A vapor stream briefly trails off the top of the orbiter cockpit.
1:09 - "3 at 72" - The orbiter's three main engines are operating at 72% of rated capacity.
1:11 - "In the bucket" - Engines are throttled down to reduce stress on the shuttle in the region of maximum dynamic pressure. The "bucket" refers to the U-shaped performance curve.
1:18 - Aerodynamic forces cause the body flap below the main engines to vibrate as the shuttle approaches the region of maximum dynamic pressure.
1:27 - Shock waves are generated as the shuttle travels faster than the speed of sound.
1:35 - A dark patch forms on the bottom of the external fuel tank as recirculating gases from the SRBs burn the tank's insulating foam.
1:43 - Right: SRB-mounted camera looking forward shows the sky transitioning from blue to black.
1:46 - "On PDL" - Communications with the shuttle switch to the Ponce de Leon Tracking Station when the SRB plume blocks radio signals to the MILA Tracking Station at Kennedy Space Center.
1:56 - The exhaust plume expands as the shuttle ascends because atmospheric pressure decreases at higher altitudes.
2:16 - "Limb of the Earth" - The edge of the atmosphere that looks like a blue halo when viewed from the side.
2:21 - Right: SRB-mounted camera looking back toward the Earth shows the exhaust plume rising above the clouds.
2:35 - "Pc less than 50" - SRB chamber pressure is less than 50 psi.
2:36 - Two minutes into the flight at an altitude of 146,000 ft (28 miles, 45 km) the SRBs are jettisoned from the shuttle when their diminishing thrust is neutralized by their weight. Right: View from the cockpit as the booster separation motors fire.
2:39 - "103, 103" - After SRB separation the on-board computers switch to Major Mode 103 for the second stage of ascent.
2:43 - Although the SRBs appear to be falling away from the shuttle, the rockets continue to ascend for another 75 seconds to an altitude of 220,000 ft.
2:45 - After SRB separation the shuttle rolls slightly and the orbiter's maneuvering engines fire to provide additional thrust.
RightsDistribution or presentation in whole or in part must be accompanied by all credits and notices, and must comply with guidelines for use of NASA imagery. May not be used for commercial purposes or fund raising, including but not limited to generation of advertising revenue. Persons depicted or speaking in this work appear for illustrative purposes only. No endorsement of any commercial product, process, or service is stated or implied. Presented without warranty, guarantee, or any representation regarding accuracy, performance, reliability, security, currentness, or otherwise. The producer, Profitic, content providers, and their members, officers, employees, agents, and/or suppliers shall not be liable to any person or entity for any damages, costs, or proceeding arising out of use of this work or otherwise.